ALLEGATIONS of anomalies in the purchase tender of three old ships have been raised against the Chittagong port authorities. By what has been revealed through investigative journalism, we are taken aback at the various instances of flouting set rules, from choosing a hitherto unknown company winning the bid to failure to clear customs duty before taking delivery of the said vessels. It is very interesting how authorities could allow a company to participate in the bidding that is said to have come into existence a month after the tender was floated. This automatically raises the question of whether it qualified to take part in the bidding process at all. The question must be asked as to how it qualified since minimum requirement for such a contract requires a company to have at least ten years' work experience and at least five years' experience in the purchase and sale of vessels.
From the very inception of procurement, the process is riddled with unanswered questions. The manner in which the port authority has expedited partial payment of dues to the company, why customs duties on two ships estimated at more than Tk80million has been waived all remain unanswered questions. The biggest puzzle remains how port authority has authorised the purchase of old ships which is beyond its jurisdiction. With some eight shipbuilding yards operating in the country and four of those companies capable of building container ships, why are we expending valuable foreign exchange on buying old ships breaking all the rules?